By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
Last week’s JusticeXL “Demo Day” might have been Dan Marcum’s swansong, more or less, after four decades involved in entrepreneurial activities. At least, that’s more or less what he says.
The long-time Tullahoma business executive and Founder of the Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Centers (SMTEC) confirmed the plans about a month ago in an interview with Milt Capps of Venture Nashville Connections.
At last week’s JusticeXL “Demo Day” in Tullahoma, Marcum reaffirmed the decision. There are those of us, including Fran Marcum, his wife, who wonder how long that will last.
“Do you think he can really retire,” she asks, then quickly says to me, “He’s just like you.”
I’ve known Dan for several decades, starting when he chaired the Advisory Council for the University of Tennessee’s Center for Industrial Services. There were some challenges that we worked through successfully due to Dan’s insights and tenacity.
Later, during the Bredesen Administration, we worked together to revive the then dormant Tennessee Technology Development Corporation (TTDC). Dan had been Vice Chair of the organization when it went into hibernation during a change in Governors. TTDC now does business as Launch Tennessee.
The Marcums successfully opened one of the 10 TNInvestco funds under the NEST-TN banner. In his keynote address at the “Demo Day” last week, Dan noted that 32 companies are in the portfolio with nearly $117 million in investments.
“It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur in Tennessee,” Dan says. “If you have a good investable story, funds will actually seek you out. You can bloom where you are planted.”
During his presentation at “Demo Day,” he used a children’s book, What Do You Do with an Idea, written by Kobi Yamada, to encourage the entrepreneurs to pursue their passion. I was not familiar with the book that tells the story of a youngster who has an idea, tries to discard it but can’t, and finally summons the courage to pursue it in spite of naysayers.
Dan has lived in Tullahoma since 1972 and seen the family-owned Micro Craft grow from three employees in a garage to more than 700 before it was sold. He’s been a part of many community activities as well as those across the state.
Is he really calling the game or just taking a break?
“Dan is going to try a little bit of retirement,” JusticeXL Program Manager Jerry Wright said in acknowledging his contributions at last week’s “Demo Day.” Sounds like he shares Fran’s views!